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Interest Groups

Interest Groups

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Interest Groups

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  1. Interest Groups

  2. Interest Group • An organization of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals. • Interest groups pursue their goals in many arenas.

  3. Interest Groups • Interest groups are distinct from political parties. • Political parties fight election battles; interest groups do not field candidates for office but may choose sides. • Interest groups are policy specialists; political parties are policy generalists. • Interest groups can “access,” or influence many points and levels of government

  4. Interest Group Examples • AARP (American Association of Retired People) • Sierra Club (Environment) • NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) • NOW (National Organization of Women) • ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) • PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups) • NEA (National Education Association) • AMA (American Medical Association) • NRA (National Rifle Association) Thousands of interest groups in the US

  5. Sierra Club

  6. United Auto Workers (UAW)

  7. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

  8. American Association of Retired People (AARP)

  9. National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

  10. NRA •  “You can have my guns when you take them from my cold, dead hands.” • Charlton Heston, Moses, Actor, former President of the National Rifle Association

  11. People’s Society of Secretly Communist Teachers Posing as Conservatives

  12. Interest Group Politics • Are interest groups good or bad? • Pluralist Theory • Competition among groups trying to get their preferred policies. • Elite Theory • Upper-class elite holds most of the power and run government. • Hyperpluralist Theory • Groups are so strong that government is weakened.

  13. Interest Groups and Pluralism Theory • Groups provide a link between the people and the government. • Groups compete and no one group will become too dominant. • Groups play by “rules the game.” • Groups weak in one resource may use another. • Lobbying is open to all groups, regardless of group size or strength.

  14. Interest Groups and Elitism Theory • Groups are unequal in power. • Awesome power is held by the largest corporations. • Power of a few is fortified by interlocking directorates. • Other groups win minor policy battles, but corporate elites consistently win the big decisions.

  15. Interest Groups and Hyperpluralism • Interest groups causing political chaos • TOO MANY GROUPS,TOO MUCH INFLUENCE • Government trying to please everyone, resulting policies are contradictory and confusing • Ex. – support removing manufacturing regulations and support environment protection??? • impossible

  16. What makes Interest Groups powerful? • Size (sometimes…stay tuned) • Power of AARP – 25% of the population 50 and over • Intensity – drive or effort put forth (single issue groups fall into this category) • Money • form a PAC (Political Action Committee) – donate money to campaigns and advertising

  17. Surprising Ineffectiveness of Large Groups • Potential group – People who might be group members because they share some common interest. • Actual group – Potential group members who actually join group. • Collective good – Something of value that cannot be withheld from a potential group member.

  18. Surprising Ineffectiveness of Large Groupscon’t • Free-rider problem – Problem of people not joining because they can benefit from the group’s activities without joining. • Selective benefits – Goods that a group can restrict to those who actually join.

  19. Intensity of the Members • A large potential group may be mobilized through an issue that people feel intensely about. • Politicians are more likely to listen a group that shows it cares deeply about an issue. • Single-issue groups – Narrow interest, dislike compromise, and members are new to politics.

  20. Money, Money, Money… • Not all groups have equal amounts of money. • Monetary donations translate into access to the politicians, such as a phone call, meeting, or support for policy. • Wealthier groups have more resources and access, but they do not always win on policy.

  21. How do Interest groups get money? • Donations (YOU!) • Membership dues (also YOU!) • Foundations Ex. - Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation • Federal grants and contracts

  22. How Interest Groups Work to Influence Policy • Lobbying • Communication to a governmental decision maker with the hope of influencing his or her decision. • Lobbyists are • (1) a source of information • (2) helping to get legislation passed • (3) helping to formulate campaign strategy • (4) a source of ideas and innovations.

  23. How Interest Groups Work to Influence Policy • Electioneering • Direct group involvement in the electoral process by helping to fund campaigns, getting members to work for candidates, and forming political action committees (PACs). • PACs are political funding vehicles created by the 1974 campaign finance reforms.

  24. How Interest Groups Work to Influence Policy • Litigation • Amicus curiae briefs – Written arguments submitted to the courts in support of one side of a case. • Means “Friend of the Court” • Class action lawsuits – Enable a group of people in a similar situation to combine their common grievances into a single suit.

  25. How Interest Groups Work to Influence Policy • Going Public • Groups try to: • (1) cultivate a good public image • (2) build a reservoir of goodwill with the public • (3) use marketing strategies to influence public opinion of the group and its issues • (4) advertise to motivate and inform the public about an issue.

  26. How Interest Groups Work to Influence Policy

  27. How Interest Groups Work to Influence Policy • “Ratings Game” • Interest groups will monitor the voting record of legislators, particularly on controversial bills • They assign and publish a grade for each politician based on how well their voting record matched the policy goals of the interest group

  28. Types of Interest Groups • Economic Interests • Labor – Union organizations press for policies to ensure better working conditions and higher wages. • Business – Interests generally unified when it comes to promoting greater profits but are often fragmented when policy choices have to be made.

  29. Types of Interest Groups • Environmental Interests • Environmental groups promote policies to control pollution and to combat global warming, wilderness protection, and species preservation. • They oppose supersonic aircraft, nuclear power plants, drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and strip mining.

  30. Types of Interest Groups • Equality Interests • Two sets of interest groups, representing minorities and women, have made equal rights their main policy goal. • Equality groups press for equality at the polls, in housing, on the job, in education, and in all other facets of American life.

  31. Types of Interest Groups • Consumer and Other Public Interest Lobbies • Public interest lobbies – Groups that seek a collective good, and the achievement of which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership or activists of the organization. • Often speak for “voiceless” groups – children, animals, mentally ill • Consumer groups – In 1973, Congress responded to consumer advocacy by creating the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which it authorized to regulate all consumer products and to ban products that were dangerous. • Ralph Nader Unsafe at Any Speed

  32. To Sum Up… • James Madison wanted a wide-open system in which groups compete (Pluralism). • Interest groups seek to maintain policies and programs that benefit them. • Interest groups pressure government to do more things. • As the government does more, more groups form to get more.

  33. IRON TRIANGLES • Iron Triangles – • a.k.a. Subgovernments; a mutually dependent and advantageous relationship between a bureaucratic agency, interest groups, and congressional committees or subcommittees that oversee that agency. • Iron triangles dominate some areas of domestic policymaking. • You will see this term A LOT more…

  34. The Revolving Door • A criticism of interest groups • Government officials quit their jobs or don’t get reelected • Then take government jobs for a certain lobbying agency • Fear that private interests by business have an unfair influence on gov’tdecisions • Ex- official does favor in return for later job